Cardiac patients often endure prolonged hospital stays, especially in the intensive care unit (ICU), as a precaution to ensure their proper healing after invasive surgery. However, a long stay in the hospital also leads to demonstrably lower quality of life in these vulnerable patients, who often feel depressed and exhausted. Therefore, anything that might safely reduce the time a cardiac patient spends in the hospital and ICU may actually help that patient heal more quickly. According to a study published in the journal Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, a safe, effective way to shorten hospital stays is simple supplementation with vitamin C.
Working from previous research that showed the positive impact of vitamin C supplementation on the health of cardiac patients, a research team in Iran conducted a randomized clinical trial study to assess whether vitamin C supplementation could reduce the length of hospital and ICU stay in post‒cardiac surgery patients. To this end, they recruited 290 patients who were scheduled for adult cardiac procedures and randomized them into 2 groups. The intervention group (n=113) received 2 g vitamin C as ascorbic acid intravenously just before surgery and then 1 g vitamin C in daily oral doses for 4 days after surgery. The placebo group (n=177) received tablets matched in shape and size to the vitamin C provided the intervention group, also for 4 days after surgery.
Outcome measures were time spent in ICU after surgery, overall length of hospital stay, duration of intubation after surgery, drainage volume (ICU and during the first 24 hours after surgery), and incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF).
Interestingly, time spent in the ICU was not significantly different between groups (3.42±1.06 d for intervention group vs 3.43±1.09 d for placebo group). However, there was an appreciable difference between the intervention group and the placebo group in overall length of hospital stay: The vitamin C group stayed about 2 fewer days in the hospital compared to controls (10.17+4.63 d vs 12+4.51 d). Additionally, the patients receiving vitamin-C therapy had shorter intubation time and less drainage volume. They also had a lower incidence of postsurgical AF: 35.5% in the intervention group vs 55.9% in the placebo group.
Given these remarkable findings, expect further studies delving into the link between vitamin C supplementation and better healing in cardiac patients. This inexpensive and well-tolerated vitamin appears to have as of yet undiscovered potential in heart health.
Sadeghpour A, Alizadehasl A, Kyavar M, et al. Impact of vitamin C supplementation on post-cardiac surgery ICU and hospital length of stay. Anesth Pain Med. 2015;5(1):e25337.

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